Nicholson earns his stripes

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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Jamaica international Shamar “Bowsa” Nicholson's journey in the professional game continues to take him places.

The Reggae Boyz striker yesterday signed a four-year deal with Belgian Pro League outfit Royal Charleroi Sporting Club, or Sporting Charleroi.

Nicholson, 22, also yesterday successfully completed a medical, and now awaits his work permit which should be ready in short order that could see him debuting for the Zebras possibly by next weekend.

The Jamaican, whose football has made quantum leaps in the past two years or so, leaves Slovenian club NK Domžale for a transfer fee reported to be in the region of 1.5 million euros.

“I am extremely happy, especially knowing where I am coming from and where I am now… and as you know that the Belgium league is one of the top leagues in Europe outside of the top five, plus the Belgian national team is ranked number one in the world, so to be in this environment will be good for me as I make those steps to the dream,” Nicholson told the Jamaica Observer from Belgium minutes after putting pen to paper yesterday.

The former Boys' Town prodigy says the strides made in the world of professional football, importantly, serves a broader purpose than that of his own.

“This move is not only good for me, as it will serve to inspire another youth in Jamaica that you can start your career in Jamaica and follow your dream, and that is one of the reasons I work so hard so that I can inspire others, even my son, that if you work hard you can succeed,” he said.

Nicholson, a striker with a sound pair of feet and dominant in the air, notes that he has mentally prepared himself for the tough task at hand.

“I know that the league runs for a very long time, but I am mentally prepared and ready for the challenge… in my first year, I just want to adapt to the style of play, and to just work hard as you know that every level you go to it gets harder and harder.

“But I am mentally prepared to fight for this team and to show them that I am grateful to be here,” he stated.

The Belgian top league runs from July to May, and Charleroi are currently in seventh place with five points after one win and two drawn results from three rounds of games, and a plus one goal difference. Club Brugge lead with maximum nine points and a plus 10 goal difference.

Nicholson, with three goals in 12 appearances for Jamaica, believes playing in Belgium is a great stage for him to realise his lifelong dream of playing in Europe's glossy club competitions.

The closest he has been is playing in the Europa League qualifying play-offs for Domzale, with the club narrowly missing out on qualification.

“It's my dream to play in the Champions League or the Europa League and that is one of the reasons I am excited to play in Belgium at this time,” he beamed.

The Jamaican frontman is a direct replacement for Charleroi's top marksman, Nigeria's Victor Osimhen, who is already on the scoresheet for his new club France's Lille.

Osimhen replaced Ivory Coast's Nikolas Pepe, who has moved to English giants Arsenal in a flurry of late transfers in the closing window.

Leaving Domžale is a heartbreaking occasion for Nicholson, who has called the Slovenia city his “second home” since 2017.

“Domžale helped me so much, as they gave me a lot of time to adapt when I just arrived and I am grateful to them because that helped me to be the player I am today… they were patient enough to help me to grow, and they will always have a place in my heart.

“It is sad because Domžale is the first team for me in Europe and it's a second home away from Jamaica… so yes, it's very hard to leave,” Nicholson noted.

The player's agent Kevin Cowan, who was present in Belgium for the formalities, said joining Charleroi “is a big opportunity for Shamar”.

“The Belgian Jupiler Pro League is highly rated and highly visible throughout Europe. The level will be extremely demanding, so he will need to fight hard and adapt quickly. He understands fully what has to be done, and fortunately, he possesses the physical capacity and mental toughness to do so,” he reasoned.

Boyhood coach for the 6ft 4in player Andrew Price said he spotted Nicholson's talent as a Boys' Town Under-13 player.

“I identified Shamar as a talent from a very young age as he played Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 for Boys' Town, and when I looked at him back then, he looked like a man among boys.

“From early, he was a good header, good passer, and while he was very tall, he was agile and I took him under my wings very early after he was coached by people like Leon Hardware at the age-group level,” said Price, an assistant coach for Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz.

Price, who coached Nicholson at the Premier League level at the Trench Town-based Boys' Town Football Club, said his tutee had long demonstrated the desire to scale football's heights.

“He was always a good listener and he continued to improve his craft with a fixity of purpose and I am proud of where he is in his football career and I believe the best is yet to come,” he noted.

“I am very elated for Shamar, who has worked hard at achieving his goals… he is a focused player and a fun person and the life of the party and I think that Charleroi has got an excellent player and person,” Price ended.